The Long-billed Curlew is an icon of the American prairie and intermountain grassland basins. It is a relatively large, conspicuous shorebird found in short to moderate height grasslands. The Intermountain West Regional Shorebird Plan considers the intermountain west region to be of critical importance to curlews. The Montana Bird Conservation Partnership (MBCP) has identified the curlew as a flagship species, or a species that is likely to resonate with the American public and thus garner support for conservation action. For these reasons, we (the MBCP) are using the Long-billed Curlew as a priority species for delivering grassland conservation using a Strategic Habitat Conservation approach.
With support from the Intermountain West Joint Venture we are developing a Long-billed Curlew habitat initiative designed to link existing science with on the ground grassland conservation. We are hosting a series of workshops to use existing decision support tools and expert knowledge to identify priority areas for conservation focus and to articulate specific management strategies within each focal area.
Management for Long-billed Curlews would target grazed, native vegetation for breeding sites and croplands of short to moderate height (<30 cm) grasslands for brood rearing and foraging. We will assess the effectiveness of conservation action through a coordinated monitoring program that will likely involve the participation of local volunteers. Ultimately, we anticipate that management and conservation of key landscapes for curlews will provide habitat for a wide spectrum of grassland birds.